Annual Report published in the Gazette 2016 Issue No. 39

PRESIDENT:  Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO., OBE.

VICE PRESIDENTS: Lt Col The Lord Wigram, MC,JP,DL: Colonel ET Bolitho OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall; Lt Col P.E. Hills FLCM, PSM; Lt Col LCA Ranson, TD;  DT Griffiths Esq; J Frost Esq; Lt Col RM Dorney, MBE; C Savage Esq.; K Jones Esq; Capt J Buxton

CHAIRMAN: Mr M O'Gorman

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Mr P Finch

SECRETARY: Mr M Allen, 51, Vowles Close, Wraxall, Bristol, BS48 1PP Tel. 07891238866

 

Email: bristolbranch@grengds.com

WEBSITE: www.bristolgrenadiers.org

TWITTER: @GrenGdsBristol

FACEBOOK: Bristol Grenadiers

WEBMASTER: Mr RL Cox

WELFARE: Mr R Bleaden

TREASURER: Mr AF Lock

MEETINGS: Committee meeting will be held at 15.30hrs on the last Sunday of each month (Excluding January & December) at the Port of Bristol Social Club, Nisbley Road, Shirehampton, Bristol, BS11 9XW.

As 2014 drew to a close, some Thirty-Two members of the Bristol Branch attended the Coldstream Guards Association Christmas lunch at the Port of Bristol social club in Shirehampton, Bristol, on the 6th December. The Coldstream Lunch is becoming an extremely popular fixture on the Branch calendar and our numbers at the event are improving year on year, this is a source of great pleasure for the Branch Committee as the Coldstreamers managed to seat only Twelve of their number at our Dinner held in the October of 2014. The Coldstreamers, as always were magnificent hosts and made the Grenadier contingent most welcome and a very pleasant afternoon was had by all attending. The President of the Bristol Branch of the Coldstream Guards Association, Colonel Martin Somervell MBE commented on the number of Grenadiers present and expressed his pleasure at seeing the hard work of the Committees of both Branches coming to fruition and proposed a toast to the continuing 'Bon Homie' between the two branches.

The beginning of 2015 was a quiet period for the Bristol Branch with the first major event on the calendar not arriving until April, when on the 11th we held our Branch AGM at our new home, The Port of Bristol Social Club on Nibley Road in Shirehampton, Bristol. The Branch President, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO OBE presided over the meeting and during his address to the Branch he commented on the general state of well-being within the Branch over recent years, the President informed the meeting that the numbers of Branch Members attending Branch events was up year on year and that in his opinion the Branch was going from strength to strength and that this was due in no small part to the hard work that was put into the Branch by the Committee whom the President thanked for their efforts. The Branch Chairman and Vice President of the Branch, Chris Savage, former RSM of the 1st Battalion then addressed the meeting and informed those present that he and his Wife, Hilary (Hil's) had recently made the decision to 'upsticks' and move to Essex to be nearer their Daughter, Chris stated that their house in Bristol was now sold and as their move was imminent he would not be standing for re-election as Branch Chairman. Chris went on to thank all at the Bristol Branch for making Hil's and himself most welcome during the years that they had lived in Bristol and wished the Branch every success for the future. The Branch Secretary, Matthew Allen responded to the Chairman's statement by saying that Chris would be missed enormously by the Branch and that he had been instrumental in the recent resurgence of the Bristol Branch. The Secretary thanked Chris, on behalf of all in the Branch for his tireless work and his meticulous attention to detail on their behalf during his time with them. The Secretary went on to say that, personally he had enjoyed working with Chris and that his leaving was a huge blow, particularly as we would no longer enjoy the Summer Garden Party that the Savage's had arranged at their house in recent years. The Secretary then wished both Hil's and Chris all the very best for their future in Essex and asked the Branch President to consider allowing Chris to remain on the Vice Presidents list, a request that the President was delighted to grant.

All Branch Officers and Members of the Branch Committee were re-elected to their respective positions, Matthew Allen to Branch Secretary, Peter Finch to Vice Chairman, Tony Lock to Branch Treasurer and Reg Bleaden to Branch Welfare, when the time came to select a new Chairman the Secretary proposed that Mike O'Gorman be considered for the role, the Secretary explained that Mike had been actively involved with the Branch for many years and was always one of the first to volunteer to assist whenever help was required and was a very 'hands on' member of the Branch, it was the Secretary's opinion that Mike would make an excellent replacement for the outgoing Chairman. This proposal was swiftly seconded and Mike O'Gorman was unanimously elected into the post of Branch Chairman. All at the Bristol Branch wish Mike the very best in his new role, a Regimental Sergeant Major's boots are very large boots to fill.

Shortly after the AGM we gathered once again at the Port of Bristol Social Club, on Saturday 18th April we took part in the Annual St George's Cup skittles match against the Bristol Branch of the Coldstream Guards Association. Our team Captain, the newly installed Branch Chairman Mike O'Gorman was under immense pressure to deliver a Grenadier victory as the Coldstreamers had inflicted a crushing defeat upon us at last year's tournament and it was unprecedented that a team win successive competitions. It started quite well for the Grenadiers, we edged ahead in the first set and went into the second hoping to inflict further losses upon the

Coldstreamers, however things did not go quite to plan and the Coldstreamers ended the second set with a convincing lead, but at the end of the third set and with Brian Womack scoring a very respectable 34 for the Grenadiers we had slightly reigned in the deficit and went into the final set with hopes set high. Alas, the Coldstreamers were on excellent form and even with the Branch Secretary equalling Brian Womack's 34 we could not overcome the Coldstream advantage of the previous sets and the Coldstreamers lifted the St George's Cup for a successive year. Mike O'Gorman certainly has his work cut out for the 2016 competition as it is unthinkable that the Coldstreamers should lift the Cup for a third year.

The 17th May saw a full coach of Bristol Branch members depart Bristol for our Annual pilgrimage along the M4 to London for Regimental Remembrance Day, After our now customary stop at The Beefeater Grill in Swindon for a hearty breakfast and to embark our Branch Members from Swindon we arrived in London in good time to allow our members plenty of time for socialising before the formalities of the day began, upon arrival most of our number repaired to the Sergeants Mess to not only take full advantage of the very reasonably priced bar but also to seek out friends and former colleagues from other branches. After the service in The Guards Chapel some of our number joined the ranks for the march to Horse Guards to place the Regimental Wreath upon the Guards Memorial. After the formalities had been completed we departed Wellington Barracks for the short journey to Windsor for our traditional Fish and Chip supper at the premises of the Windsor Branch. This is now a hugely popular stop off for the Bristol Branch and we extend our thanks to Bob Gilbert and the Committee of the Windsor Branch for allowing us the use of their facilities and making us feel so welcome. It is intended to follow the same format for this event in 2016 and Branch Members are advised to book early as such is the popularity of this event, coach seats are at something of a premium.

On the 2nd August a small detachment from the Branch headed North to attend the Gloucestershire Branch Annual garden party at the home of their Vice President Colonel John Peel TD DL, this event coincided with the 100th Birthday of Lt Colonel The Lord Wigram MC who is Vice President to both the Bristol and the Gloucestershire branches, a small party from both branches, including our Vice President Keith Jones visited Lord Wigram whose birthday celebrations were taking place nearby. Our attending Branch Members reported that they had had a fantastic day hosted by the Gloucestershire Branch and we extend our thanks to Colonel Peel for inviting us.

In September some two dozen Branch Members gathered in Queens Square in Bristol for the planting of a tree and dedication service to the memory of GDSM Karl Whittle who was mortally wounded in Afghanistan whilst serving with the 1st Battalion in 2012. The Regimental Casualty Officer, Matthew Ellmer had done a magnificent job in organising the memorial and spoke most movingly at the service, as did the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Clare Campion-Smith. The dedication and memorial service was widely covered in the local press with local newspapers and television covering the event. Karl Whittle's tree stands prominently in the South Western corner of Queens Square at the entrance nearest the Arnolfini.

At the beginning of October another small detachment from Bristol headed North to Gloucester for the Gloucestershire Branch Annual 'Presidents Lunch' which was held at The Hatherley Manor Hotel. The small number attending from Bristol, seven in total, had a most memorable day, we were made most welcome by the Gloucestershire Branch and enjoyed their hospitality in pleasant surroundings. The highlight of the day was surely being entertained by the Band of the Lydney Air Cadets who were magnificent. Our grateful thanks to the President of the Gloucestershire Branch, Colonel Lance Ranson TD for inviting us.

On the 24th October we held our Annual Branch Dinner and due to the success of the previous year's event we returned to the same Venue, The Holiday Inn in Filton, Bristol. The 2015 Dinner has been widely accepted as a huge success, this is due in no small part to us having musical accompaniment during the evening in the form of The London Military Band which comprises of a wind ensemble from the Regimental Band. We would thoroughly recommend The London Military Band to other branches as this certainly added to the ambience of the evening, our thanks to Alan Shellard and the other band members who travelled from London to play for us. We seated 125 Branch Members and their guests at the dinner, which is the highest number in recent Branch history, we are delighted that numbers for this event are steadily rising and hope to improve upon this in 2016. We were delighted to welcome from the Regiment, Captain Hugo Cartwright Adjutant of the 1st Battalion, C/Sgt James Thompson and his wife Emma who are fantastic supporters of the Bristol Branch and have attended every dinner since James was the recruiting Sergeant in Bristol and L/Sgt Matt Shaw along with GDSM Charlie Poole who both did a magnificent job in welcoming guests and looking resplendent in their Bearskins and Tunics. We would thank Regimental Headquarters for allowing us to have the two 'Sentries' at our dinner, their presence certainly adds to the evening and gives the occasion much more of a Regimental tone. We were also privileged to welcome Sgt Rob Broomes from Regimental Headquarters who does such sterling work not only on behalf of the Bristol Branch but all Branches of the Association. After a splendid dinner it was time for the formalities of the evening and the Branch President, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO OBE addressed the dinner and thanked all for attending, Sir Evelyn noted that some guests had travelled some distance to attend, our Branch Webmaster, Roy Cox and his good Lady June had travelled from Southampton, Stan and Dorothy Tucker from Gosport, our Vice President, Colonel Hills and his wife from Cornwall, our former Chairman Chris Savage and Hilary from their new home in Essex, Dave Scolding who is now a resident fixture at our dinners from Birmingham and also the detachment from the Battalion in Aldershot, Two Guests of Branch Member Fred Jones had travelled from the United States to attend. Sir Evelyn then thanked the Branch Committee for arranging such a splendid event. Our Guest of Honour and Guest Speaker was Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson DFM who is the last surviving member of the Dambusters (617 Squadron) from WW2. Squadron Leader Johnson, who was the bomb aimer aboard flight T for Tommy which attacked the Sorpe Dam, enthralled us for over half an hour recounting the Dambuster raids and the lead up to them. It was an absolute pleasure for us to host Johnny Johnson who, quite rightly received an extended standing ovation at the end of his speech. The daunting task of following the Squadron Leader unfortunately fell to the Adjutant of the 1st Battalion Captain Hugo Cartwright who stoically updated those present as to the recent activities of the Regiment. After the formalities of the speeches our Chairman Mike O'Gorman, on behalf of the Branch made a presentation of a framed print to the former Chairman, Chris Savage in recognition of his service to the Bristol Branch. Beverly Spriggs, Daughter of the late Lance Cambridge then presented Brian Womack with the 'Cambridge Memorial Shield' for his highest Branch score at the St George's Cup competition earlier in the year. As the evening drew to a close the Branch Secretary conducted the Prize Draw.

Since our last report the Bristol Branch has enjoyed a hugely successful year and we continue to go from strength to strength, albeit in small steps, but certainly steps in the right direction. We are fortunate that we have a large membership many of whom are prepared to 'roll up their sleeves' and help towards our goal of a smooth running, well attended successful Branch. The Officers and Committee of the Bristol Branch extend their heartfelt thanks to all that help us towards that goal. We have been delighted to welcome one or two new members since our last report and regrettably we have also had to say goodbye to some of our number, it is our sad duty to report the passing of 2625389 Ted Bond, 23509381 Tom Gray, and Mrs Jean Nunn, the widow of one of our former long serving Branch Members. We also bade farewell to 23252949 Tony Jones a long serving member of the Branch Committee who sadly passed away just days before our Annual Dinner in October.